October 5, 2014
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Is 5: 1-7 / Ps 80: 9, 12, 13-14, 15-16, 19-20 / Phil 4: 6-9 / Mt 21: 33-43
First Reading: Isaiah 5: 1-7
Let me sing for my beloved the love song of my beloved about his vineyard. My beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up, cleared the stones, and planted the choicest vines. He built there a watchtower and hewed out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only wild grapes. Now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more was there to do that I have not done for my vineyard? Good grapes was the yield I expected, why did it yield only sour grapes? Now I will let you know what I am going to do with my vineyard: I will remove its hedge and it will be burned; I will break down its wall and it will be trampled on. I will make it a wasteland, I will neither prune nor hoe it, and briers and thorns will grow there. I command the clouds, as well, not to send rain on it. The vineyard of Yahweh Sabaoth is the people of Israel, and the people of Judah are his pleasant vine. He looked for justice, but found bloodshed; He looked for righteousness but heard cries of distress.
Second Reading: Philippians 4: 6-9
Do not be anxious about anything. In everything resort to prayer and supplication together with thanksgiving and bring your requests before God. Then the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, fill your minds with whatever is truthful, holy, just, pure, lovely and noble. Be mindful of whatever deserves praise and admiration. Put into practice what you have learned from me, what I passed on to you, what you heard from me or saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you.
Gospel: Matthew 21:33-43
Listen to another example: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a fence around it, dug a hole for the winepress, built a watchtower, leased the vineyard to tenants and then went to a distant country. When harvest time came, the landowner sent his servants to the tenants to collect his share of the harvest. But the tenants seized his servants, beat one, killed another and stoned another. Again the owner sent more servants, but they were treated in the same way. Finally, he sent his son, thinking: 'They will respect my son.' But when the tenants saw the son, they thought: 'This is the one who is to inherit the vineyard. Let us kill him and his inheritance will be ours.' So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Now, what will the owner of the vineyard do with the tenants when he comes?" They said to him, "He will bring those evil to an evil end, and lease the vineyard to others who will pay him in due time." And Jesus replied, "Have you never read what the Scriptures say? The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This was the Lord's doing; and we marvel at it. Therefore I say to you: the kingdom of heaven will be taken from you and given to a people who will yield a harvest.
The Psalmist proclaims, "The earth is the Lord's and everything in it." (Psalm 24:1) The tenants didn't own the vineyard; the owner placed them there expecting to receive some of the grapes harvested, not all the grapes. But the tenants rejected the owner's request and acted as if they owned the vineyard.
The essence of sin is declaring independence from our Creator -- refusing to acknowledge God's ownership of this world and rejecting His claim on our life. The essence of sin is saying, "I don't need God. I am the master of my life." The truth is that we do not own anything. We just manage some of God's property. I wonder how our Heavenly Father must feel when we walk into our house and say, "Mine!" Or when we get in our nice car and say, "Mine!" Or when we go online and check our account balance and say, "Mine!" No, it's not ours. Every good thing we have is a gift from God.
God is not primarily interested in our money. He wants us. He is asking us to first acknowledge His ownership, His Lordship over our life. He is reaching out to us in love and He has sent us plenty of messengers. There are reminders all around us that we have a date with death and we had better prepare to meet our Creator. When we open the newspaper and read the obituaries, God is sending a message to us. When we drive by a cemetery, another message. God is so patient with us that if we have rejected His offer a hundred times over, He still keeps sending us messengers.
Today's parable is the most recent messenger our Creator has sent to lovingly reach out to us to respond to His gracious offer. And what is God's offer? He wants us to acknowledge His ownership of everything. He doesn't want our money, He wants us. He wants to have a loving relationship with us.
The Bible says: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16) Can we comprehend that? There is only one God and He has only one Son, and He loves us so much He sent that only son to reconcile our differences with Him. But what did we do? Did we run out to meet God's Son and fall at His feet in surrender? No, like the tenants in the parable, our sin caused the death of the Son of God. That is what is so amazing about God's love. We are sinners by nature and by choice, but God still loves us, in spite of our sins. How can we resist that kind of love? God is love, and God is patient. He is slow to anger and quick to forgive. His mercies endure forever, but none of these attributes cancel this fact that God is just. That means He will mete out perfect justice in the end. If we have rejected God's Son, we will fall under his judgment.
Jesus is the cornerstone of our lives that God has given us. Will we build our life upon Him? One day, we will discover that Jesus will either be a stepping-stone that gives us access to God, or He will be a rock over which we stumble. The choice is ours.
So what are our take-away truths? First, have we acknowledged God's claim to our life? Have we accepted His Son? Is our life built upon the Rock of Ages? Second, are we being good stewards of the vineyard where God has placed us? Do we constantly remember that we don't own anything, that He owns it all? Will we adopt a tenant's attitude when it comes to our possessions? If we are faithful tenants for the Lord, then, for sure, on Judgment Day, we will hear these consoling words of Jesus: "Come, you blessed of my Father and possess the Kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world."
We pray ...
... for a deep and profound respect for life, especially for the unborn
... for all the prayer intentions in the MTQ Dailyprayer Diary
... for families who are in need of healing
... for world peace and reconciliation especially in war-torn areas
... for wisdom, perseverance and clarity of mind as they prepare and take their exams:
* Karen Tuala who takes the bar exams on the four (4) consecutive weekends of October
Finally, we pray for one another, for those who have asked our prayers and for those who need our prayers the most.
Have a good day!
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